5 Gifts To Give Your Man On Father’s Day (And All Year Long)
A while ago, I wrote about the 5 Gifts To Give Yourself on Mother’s Day (And All Year Long). Now I’m following up with 5 gifts for Father’s Day. These gifts will not only delight your man, they'll also benefit you and your kids. (And they're free!)
1. A Break From Your Criticism
As I’ve mentioned before, I became quite critical of Gavin’s parenting when Marissa was a baby. Having spent my entire pregnancy reading every parenting book I could get my hands on, my mind whirled with loads of contradicting information. It seemed like whenever Gavin made a parenting decision, I had data to support why it was the incorrect choice.
Then, if he chose differently the next time, I second-guessed myself and re-evaluated my initial line of reasoning. Nothing he did ever seemed good enough. But my controlling and irrational behavior really had nothing to do with him. He'd always been an involved father and quite capable of making smart decisions. In fact, he had way more experience with babies than I ever did.
The truth is that I felt so inept as a mother that my anxiety about doing everything “right” led me to micromanage his every move — and I probably wanted him to feel the same level of inadequacy as a parent, so I wouldn’t feel as bad about myself.
I know from my conversations with other women that I'm not the first wife to behave this way. Unfortunately, it’s pretty common. John Gottman, a top researcher on marriage, cautions couples who are critical of each other that when criticism becomes pervasive, it can often lead to more harmful effects such as contempt, defensiveness, and avoidance.
Don’t think for a minute that your criticism is helping your man become a better person. It’s much more likely to slowly beat him down and push him away. And, if you’re busy criticizing, you’re not appreciating, which brings us to Gift #2.
Whenever I dwelled on the negative aspects of my marriage, I tended to overlook the positive. It’s easy to get sucked into a habit of complaining and focusing on what we don’t want, but everyone needs to feel accepted, appreciated, and admired.
When Gavin and I went to couples counseling, our therapist suggested an activity called “Rant of Appreciation.” The idea was that every night for two minutes (I set a timer) I would sit down with Gavin and rattle off all the things I could think of that I appreciated about him. Then he would do the same in return. Sometimes I would need to write things down during the day so I wouldn’t forget them later. Here are a few things I told him:
- I love that you turn off the TV when I want to talk with you about something and you rarely seem bothered when I interrupt your shows/games.
- I appreciate that you iron your own clothes
- I appreciate how much you work to provide for our family.
- I appreciate how hands-on you are with our girls and how much you do around the house.
Now, if you’re reading this and having a hard time thinking of things you value about your man, here are some examples of qualities you might consider noticing and appreciating: Funny, honest, loyal, responsible, confident, good listener, friendly, adventurous, hard-working, playful, physically fit, health-conscious, skillful, talented, generous, compassionate, sexy, intelligent, helpful.
Surely you can find something to appreciate — after all, you married him!
3. Time away from the kids (with you)
When the day-to-day responsibilities of parenthood and work consume your life, it’s easy to neglect your relationship with your spouse. Long ago, I read somewhere that many couples barely talk to each other for more than 10 minutes a day and their conversations mostly revolve around kids or household tasks. I thought, “Oh, how sad!” and then realized we were one of those couples.
Nurturing your marriage is not only vital to your children’s sense of security and happiness, but to your own happiness as well. Your kids will complain when you go out on date night, but they'll get over it. Explain to them that Mommy and Daddy need alone time to talk about adult things and have fun together as a couple. Reassure them that you'll return…most likely feeling relaxed and happy. Kids usually like the sound of that.
4. Time alone with the kids (without you)
You read that correctly. I’m suggesting you leave your husband alone with the kids. I know many women have a hard time with this – they don’t trust their husbands to do the “right” thing when they’re not around. Dr. Ron Taffel, the author of many parenting books asks, “Is it genuinely important to get ‘it’ exactly right, or would it be better to give Dad a chance to establish a stronger relationship with the kids?”
When you’re not around, your spouse has the opportunity to do things his way and connect with the kids on his terms. This is important for your kids, too, who need to develop a separate relationship with their Dad.
For a long time after I had kids, I fooled myself into believing that sex wasn’t a big deal and that my marriage could survive just fine without it. I was a fool indeed.
Sex and intimacy are the things that set your relationship with your man apart from all the other relationships in your life. And though your libido may seem non-existent since having kids, his sex drive probably hasn’t changed a bit. Most women can get by on hugging, kissing, and snuggling to get their physical needs met. We respond sexually when we're emotionally satisfied. But for most men, they respond emotionally when they are sexually satisfied. Figures, doesn’t it?
A man’s sexuality is an important aspect of his self-image. Repeated rejection takes a toll on his self-esteem and leaves him feeling inadequate and resentful.
Let me be clear about something. I'm not telling you to have sex with your man just to make him happy (although it will). YOU deserve a great sex life, too! If you're not having regular sex with your spouse, it’s time to reclaim your sexuality and get your groove on.
I know you’re tired at the end of the day (so is he). I know you feel embarrassed about the weight you’ve put on (he doesn’t care). I know there are a million other things that need to get done (they can wait). Your relationship requires that you nurture your sex life. And here’s the secret: the more you do it, the more you’ll want to do it. Yee-haw!
So, there you have it. 5 Gifts for Father's Day and every day. You might want to throw in a tie and a framed picture of the kids, too.
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